For three days beginning Sunday, the fishermen in the coastal district of Rameswaram have decided to stay away from fishing activities along the Palk Bay to express their protest against the Sri Lankan Navy personnel for arresting Indian fishermen on charges of poaching.
In an urgent meeting convened at Thangachimadam near Rameswaram on Sunday, the fishermen affiliated to various associations passed four resolutions, The Hindu reported.
Speaking to media persons, P. Jesu Raja, a fishermen leader, said that the arrests by the Sri Lankan Navy had become a “routine” affair. “Only a week ago, seven fishermen from here were arrested and the boat was impounded. Again, on Saturday night, 15 of our fishermen were held and two boats impounded. The charges were baseless and foisted,” he alleged.
The members proposed to approach Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin soon. For this purpose, they would meet the District Collector to help get them an appointment.
The members also suggested that the State government arrange for a meeting with India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and the Secretaries in New Delhi. “Only when Indian government takes it up with Sri Lankan government, the issue may get to see a tangible solution. Else, the arrests would continue,” he said.
While the Sri Lankan court granted bail after a month or so, the boats were never returned. Since 2018, the mechanised boats had either been auctioned in public in the island nation or abandoned, Mr. Jesu Raja claimed and added that each boat cost anywhere around INR 30 to 50 lakh. The livelihood of at least 50 fishermen depended on each boat. By detaining the boats, the fishermen were deprived of their jobs. Hence, in a bid to find a permanent solution, the Union government should take it up with Sri Lanka, the fishermen resolved at the meeting.
The members also resolved to stage a demonstration at Thangachimadam on Tuesday. The resolutions were passed unanimously and fishermen leaders R. Sagayam, N. Dakshinamurthy and among others also spoke.